Howard Gardner is an American psychologist, Harvard University professor, and most notably, the creator of the theory of multiple intelligence. Born in 1943 and raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Gardner's research has predominately focused on the nature of human intelligence, and the nature of and development of abilities in the arts and how they relate to intelligence. For many years, Gardner conducted research in symbol-using capacities in normal and gifted children, and in adults with brain damage. Gardner's efforts to combine these areas of work resulted in his theory of multiple types of intelligence, which he introduced in his 1983 book Frames of Mind. The book draws upon research in neuropsychology and proposes that there are seven types of intelligence which are located in different areas of the brain. He concluded that intelligence is not one single attributing factor that underlies different abilities — countering the previously held belief upon which intelligence tests had been based.
In the 1980s Gardner became involved in educational reform in the United States. During this period he began teaching at the Harvard School of Education, where he became co-director of Harvard Project Zero, a study looking at human cognition within the field of arts. Gardner and his colleagues mainly focused on designing performance-based tests which apply the theory of multiple types of intelligence in order to create more individualized teaching and testing methods. In his book Artful Scribbles: The Significance of Children's Drawings, Gardner investigates the growth of creativity in young children, and its decline as they age and mature. He concludes by examining the questions and results that arise from this sequence of development.
Gardner continued his exploration of human intelligence in 1985's The Mind's New Science: A History of the Cognitive Revolution; which looks at the study of cognitive skill and intelligence. The book also traces the subject's roots as far into history as the Ancient Greeks and Plato and to the work of Descartes, who believed that ideas present in the human mind are stimulated but not produced by human experience. Gardner has written and published over 400 research articles and approximately twenty books, which have all been translated into different languages, and is possibly most synonymous with the 1993 study and book Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice, which points out how his perspectives can be put into practice within the field of education. Gardner's original Theory of Multiple Intelligences consists of three components and seven "intelligences." The three components are a definition of "intelligence" and a challenge to the suggestion of a "general intelligence," or g; and a challenge to the conviction that g can be accurately measured.
Gardner's seven intelligences consist of:
- Linguistic intelligence: Sensitivity to the spoken and written word, to learning languages and to using them to accomplish specific goals.
- Logical-mathematical intelligence: An ability in mathematics and other complex logical systems.
- Spatial intelligence: To perceive the visual world accurately. This also applies to how a human can recreate or alter their view of the world in their mind or in paper form.
- Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence: The ability to use one's body in a skilled way, for self-expression or toward a goal. This is particularly relevant to sportsmen and women.
- Interpersonal intelligence: the ability to perceive and understand other individuals and their moods, desires, and motivations.
- Intrapersonal intelligence: An understanding of one's emotions.
- Musical intelligence: The ability to both understand and create music.
Gardner claims that to some degree every human being contains all seven intelligences, with each individual having their own mixture of stronger and weaker intelligences. Gardner also argues that most tasks require multiple intelligences working in harmony. The example he uses is the conductor of a symphony, who would not only apply musical intelligence but also interpersonal intelligence as a group leader and bodily-kinesthetic intelligence to convey his information and instruction to the orchestra. This claim of separate and independent intelligences is a central point of Gardner's theory.
In recent years Gardner has carried out long-term case studies of successful leaders and creators. This work is published in Changing Minds: The Art and Science of Changing Our Own and Other People's Minds. In the book, Gardner discusses his belief that leadership requires the ability to change minds, including one's own mind. As an illustration, the author uses examples of world leaders such as India's Mohandas Gandhi, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and former President of the United States, Ronald Reagan.
In 2011, Gardner held positions including the John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs professor in cognition and education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, adjunct professor of Psychology at Harvard University and adjunct professor of Neurology at the Boston University School of Medicine.